Mark Sanford
Name Mark Sanford
Title Adoption attorney
Occupation Attorney
Pathology Corrupt adoption attorney
Con artist
Accessory to kidnapping
Status Alive
Permanently disbarred
Actor Bruce Altman
First Appearance "Stolen"

Mark Sanford is an attorney who ran an illegal adoption agency and turned a blind eye to the fact that many of the children he helps get adopted are kidnapped.


Sanford was born and raised in Brooklyn. He eventually graduated from Buffalo State University in 1976. Sanford then attended Law School of the Ozarks and graduated in 1979, followed by him passing the New York legal bar six years later. Throughout his career, Sanford never went to court to argue his cases. Sanford eventually set up a private adoption agency, where he would take in babies no one wanted and sell them to prospective couples, paying the mothers for their cooperation. Unbeknownst to everyone but him, he promised one baby to three different couples, picked one to give the baby to, told the other two couples that the mother changed her mind, and kept the $30,000 the couples already paid him. No one reported him to the authorities because Sanford threatened to blackball them with other baby brokers, making it impossible for them to adopt at all. Sanford was careful enough to follow all of the legal rules in negotiating the adoptions.

In 1989, Jennifer Talmadge got pregnant and contacted Sanford to put her child up for adoption, though Sanford never saw her in person. A few months after Jennifer gave birth, a woman claiming to be Jennifer came to Sanford with Jennifer's newborn son Stephen and his birth certificate. Sanford had the woman sign him over to him and placed the boy with a couple, Adam and Erin Blake, who renamed the baby Tyler. Sanford saw Jennifer's picture in the paper the next day and realized he just sold a kidnapped child, but did not report it just so he could escape prosecution and keep the profits. In 1999, a crack addict named Alicia Brown contacted Sanford to sell her unborn baby, and Sanford agreed. Sanford oversaw the adoption process while working the scam, and Brown's baby was given to another couple. Brown contacted Sanford two years later, after she got pregnant again, to sell her other baby too.


When Brown's baby was stillborn, she stole another baby named Emma Daricek from a grocery stole and passed her off to Sanford as her baby. When the police raid the brownstone where Sanford was housing the babies, his nurse tips him off, and Sanford packs up his files and prepares to flee. Detectives Munch and Fin catch him in time and arrest him for kidnapping; Sanford invokes his right to counsel. At the SVU precinct, he claims that he had no knowledge of Emma being kidnapped and that he simply helps couples acquire children. His court-appointed attorney claims that Sanford is an upstanding member of the legal community and his business is legal. Sanford eventually fires his attorney and hires a new one, Milton Schoenfeld.

After his connection to the Talmidge kidnapping is revealed, ADA Cabot meets with him and Schoenfeld to discuss a plea. When Cragen threatens to have him charged for kidnapping and murder, Sanford denies any involvement with the crime and states that they cannot prove otherwise. The charge is eventually downgraded to grand larceny and fraud when the SVU is unable to find proof that Sanford knew Emma was kidnapped. When the police find proof that Jennifer wasn't the one who signed Stephen over to him, they arrange another meeting. Cabot offers a plea of no jail time, restitution to the couples he scammed, and Stephen's location. Sanford takes the plea, revealing that Stephen is now named Tyler and lives with the Blakes. (SVU: "Stolen")

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